Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

My Two-Penn’orth (It’s A 2p-5p Game)

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

  Today, my last poker column will be published in the Guardian. Not my fault - for the time being anyway, they’re getting rid of all their daily games columns. I’m a bit wistful, because I’ve been writing it for over six years now so it’s something of a routine. But there’s a big plus side: inevitably, with a weekly poker column, there’ll be weeks when I haven’t observed any particularly interesting hands, and nothing gripping has happened on the general poker circuit, and I haven’t woken up with any new insights into how you might play a missed draw on the turn, so it all feels like a bit of a grind. I’ll be glad to see the back of that.

  Having said that, I have a feeling I’ll be doing this again sooner or later, in a different place and/or different form. For now, I expect I’ll put a few more poker posts on this blog. It won’t be weekly - as I say, I’ll be glad to escape the need to come up with thoughts quite as frequently as that - but I’ll be happy to use this space when inspiration strikes, or when I’ve played or watched an interesting or controversial hand (and of course, as always, I’ll post from tournaments I’m playing abroad if there are fun anecdotes or photos I want to share). It’ll actually be better, because this blog (unlike the column page in the Guardian) is open for comments, so it’ll be nice to get a bit of feedback on how others might have approached a hand that I found debatable. Also, there are no space limitations here. It’s always been a bit frustrating that the Guardian pieces have to be squeezed into 300 words or fewer; doesn’t leave a lot of room for the nuances and I’ll be glad to be able to write hands up in greater detail when it’s needed.

  Non-poker players: don’t be alarmed, I’ll do my best to label the poker posts and, even if I forget to do that, this won’t suddenly turn into a poker-only blog. It’ll always be a mix.

  For now, my last column (and final sweeping advice to Guardian readers about the beautiful game of poker) is here. And my poker book, which is written in the hope of entertaining players and non-players alike, is, of course, still available.



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Alfy Door at 12:11 pm on January 11th, 2012

Well, it’s a real shame, despite your understandable misgivings. Esp the Grauniad’s ditching of ‘all’ their games columns. As Ronan Bennet pointed out yesterday, it now leaves them rather isolated in terms of national Qualities games coverage.

I’ve no intention of switching to an alternative daily for my fix(es). I’ve been reading the Guardian all my life, before games columns started and despite the ditching of Sue’s Limb and Townsend. Thank Gnu Lucy Mangan seems untouchable.(?)

And ffs, please say the Observer column is at least staying!?

Baby Fish at 12:46 pm on January 11th, 2012

What am I going to do on Wednesdays now? Though I’m looking forward to seeing more poker-related blogs here.

Thanks for all the great advice over the years. The main two suggestions that are working well for me at the moment are:
1) when short-stacked going all in on the button with any two cards, and
2) qualifying for live tournaments online - I’m regularly playing £150 events, which have only cost me a few dollars [who knows might even get to the WSOP Main Event ...]

Good luck in Deauville!

Tammy J at 12:55 pm on January 11th, 2012

I’m really sad to hear this, I loved that column. I used to read it before I learned how to play and it was baffling but beautiful! Then I couldn’t resist starting playing and always referred to this for advice. I hope you will write a poker column somewhere else soon but I love the blog too. You should write a book!

DaiHappy at 1:16 pm on January 11th, 2012

Hi Victoria,
Sad to hear that your Grauniad poker column is coming to an end.
The advice has certainly helped me to improve as a player over the years - to the stage where I even disagree with you sometimes!
The archive of columns is a great resource, and it’s one I direct new players to for some advice (those that are foolish enough to ask my advice).
Looking forward to the 3,000 word hand-by-hand disseminations that will appear here soon.

Roger at 2:17 pm on January 11th, 2012

Hi Victoria

I really like all that you do but to be very honest this is a really, really boring looking website.Its incredibly dull.You should have more photographs on here.

Peter Bennett at 5:49 pm on January 11th, 2012

So sorry to read that this morning’s column in G2 was the last. Is it really six years? I’ve read almost all of them.  No, I haven’t made a million. I’m 73 and have never played poker in my life!  But I found the articles fascinating and the homespun poker philosophy—“Take action to make action” etc.  so helpful that I’ve kept a list of them! 
An idea. Why not suggest to your publishers that they print a little book with a wise saying on each page?  The title could be “Coren’s Commandments: A Poker Player’s SatNav through the Hazardous Game of Life”.

Churros at 10:04 pm on January 11th, 2012

I share the disappointment already posted. I’ve tried to use it to improve my game. I especially liked the new year’s resolutions which paid off last week as I mucked Ace-rag after Ace-rag from bad positions with impunity.

I shall follow the blog instead.

PS.Loved the book too.

Neil Kennedy at 11:17 pm on January 11th, 2012

Arse, only reason for buying that lefty rag. Look forward to more poker on here, though.

Neil (who knows how crap he is at poker but plays anyway, because, you just have to…....)

FredFosterOE at 6:15 pm on January 12th, 2012

Thanks for all your articles and your wonderful book.There should be room in more newspapers for regular poker columns and news.

AndytheDealer at 9:20 pm on January 12th, 2012

Their loss.

I thought you signed off with style.

Rocksteady at 2:42 pm on January 13th, 2012

The end of a chapter indeed.

But as links to all previous Guardian articles are here, people like myself can discover and enjoy them for the first time from the beginning, and hopefully improve our game, so thanks.

I am sure the next chapter in your writing career will be even better, as it seems that you have earned the freedom to do it anyway you like now.

SloeLoris at 2:25 pm on January 16th, 2012

*All* their daily games columns?  Does that mean we won’t be getting *several pages* every day about bloody English bloody Premiership bloody football?  Can’t wait to see what they do with all that space….

ChrisB at 1:43 pm on January 20th, 2012

They’ve said it all , thanks for the tips, six years flew by - counted in G2 wednesdays - One door closes ... Good luck

Ken Singtone at 7:41 pm on January 27th, 2012

Victoria, I’ve read your book “For Richer, For Poorer”, which I would definitely recommend to anyone reading this.  I found it very interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ve also read some of your other writings, and seen videos of you playing poker and being interviewed.  Your 2011 session at Hay was particularly good.  However, while I learned that there are other gamblers in your family, and that you initially came to poker as a way to meet boys, I’ve never really understood your passion for gambling (I bet to make money, not for fun),  although I can understand how you now feel a sense of belonging in the poker world.  Until I read your sex myths article in GQ that is.  Am I just late to understand the obvious, or have I had an insight that I need to explain further?

Victoria Coren

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